Art in the Wake: Reckoning and Re-Membering

In and around IAA | Friday May 19 and Saturday May 20, 2023

Presented by Indigo Arts Alliance in partnership with the Center for the Study of Global Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) and Atlantic Black Box

Through engaging the arts community, this symposium helped people better understand and grapple with the history and legacies of slavery and forced migration, in their lives today. By providing a platform to discuss and enact how art can be integrated with other forms of research and knowledge-making, Art in the Wake explored the profound role of creative expression in uncovering buried histories and expanding and creating new archives.

The symposium’s presentations, art workshops, and cultural conversations offered these foundational queries:

  • How can we amplify thought leadership within the African Diaspora to define our own narratives?

  • How do we create, sustain, and nourish spaces of health and healing – in our communities and within ourselves?

  • How do we offer reconstructive and reparative practices and models of engagement as alternatives for the future?  

  • How do we foster equitable and inclusive ways of engaging with one another reflective of other language families and cultures that have invested generations of blood, sweat, and tears in the building of this nation and the African diaspora?

Presenters included Margaret Brown, Valnízia Bianchi (Māe Val), C. Daniel Dawson, Meadow Dibble, Paul Gardullo, Rachel Elizabeth Harding, Juana Alicia Ruíz Hernández, Alexandra James, Kate McMahon, Ed Johnetta Miller, Gabrielle Miller, Daniel Minter, Marcia Minter, Chris Newell, Johanna Obenda, Meghna Singh, Nyugen Smith, Gary Tyler, and Clotilda Descendants. Lunch and dinner provided by Chef Jordan Benissan.

Schedule of Events


Hannaford Hall, Abromson Community Education Center
88 Bedford St, Portland, ME 04101

Screening of the film: Descendant followed by post-film discussion among NMAAHC Archaeologist, Gabrielle Miller; NMAAHC Historian, Kate McMahon; Descendant filmmaker Margaret Brown; Descendant Co-writer & Producer, Dr. Kern Jackson; and residents of Africatown and descendants of The Clotilda; and Lorna Woods. In DESCENDANT, award-winning filmmaker Margaret Brown returns to her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to document the search for and historic discovery of The Clotilda, the last known ship to arrive in the United States, illegally carrying 110 kidnapped Africans.

Indigo Arts Alliance
60 Cove Street, Portland, ME 04101
9:00 am – 6:00 pm

The day began with an invocation of ancestors and preparations led by Marcia Minter, Valnizia Perreira, and Chris Newell. Following this, Paul Gardullo, Marcia Minter, and Meadow Dibble welcomed attendees and introduced the day’s agenda. The morning session featured a screening of an excerpt from the immersive Virtual Reality installation “Container,” exploring themes of historical slavery and forced migration. Artist Nyugen Smith presented his performance art, followed by a moderated discussion with Henry Drewal, Meghna Singh, and Nyugen Smith.

Later, a discussion on the intersection of art and history took place, featuring IAA co-founder Daniel Minter and curators from the NMAAHC’s Center for the Study of Global Slavery. The conversation included a preview display of Minter’s new work for the “In Slavery’s Wake” project. Attendees then enjoyed a lunch of African Diaspora foods at the Belleflower Brewing Company.

In the afternoon, panels and workshops explored healing through quilting, movement, block printing, and herbalism. Participants engaged in activities led by various artists and healers, such as Ed Johnetta Miller, Juana Ruiz Hernandez, and Gary Tyler. The day concluded with happy hour and a community dinner at the Indigo Arts Alliance, featuring Chef Jordan Benissan’s culinary creations from Togo.

Photos from Art in the Wake: Reckoning and Re-membering, Friday May 19- Saturday May 20, Portland, ME


Portland Press Herald: Slavery’s legacy getting re-examined through art at Portland symposium

Indigo Arts Alliance is hosting the two-day event about New England’s involvement with slavery.